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  • Writer's pictureBrian Foley

Montgomery County Criminal Defense Attorney - When can police break down your door?

Montgomery County Criminal Defense Attorney - Brian Foley

Texas Code of Criminal Procedure 15.25 reads, "In case of felony, the officer may break down the door of any house for the purpose of making an arrest, if he be refused admittance after giving notice of his authority and purpose."

This means that in Texas an officer may break down your door to execute a felony arrest warrant. There are other reasons why officers may break down a door but most of these are related to "exigent circumstances." Exigent circumstances can include an ongoing assault or violent offense, a fire or life threatening emergency, hot pursuit of a subject who runs from a public place into a private dwelling or the destruction of evidence.

So who's door can they break down? Well, when I was a chief prosecutor in Harris County I would make this call frequently. The rules say that if it is the place of residence of the defendant and you have good information that the defendant is at the residence at the time you want to break down the door, then the officers may break down the door and enter to execute a felony arrest warrant. If it is the residence of a friend or a family member and not the residence listed on the Defendant's driver's license I would typically advise the police not to break down the door. The court will determine later on if the arrest was illegal and if the evidence which resulted from that arrest is going to be suppressed.

Do the Police have to knock? There is a body of case law which surrounds what is called the, "Knock and announce rule." The police do generally have to knock and alert the resident of their presence. This is codified in 15.25 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure. However, evidence does not requires suppression just because there was a failure to comply with the knock and announce rule. This is according to Reno v. State 882 S.W.2d 106 (Tex. App. -- Fort Worth 1994, pet. ref'd).

No-Knock Warrants - A no-knock warrant is a type of arrest or search warrant that is specifically authorized by a Judge because of the danger to Police officers or members of the public that would occur if Police are forced to Knock and announce their presence under the normal rules. For example, if you have information that a criminal organization is being run out of a particular warehouse and that armed guards are present at almost all times inside the warehouse and there are other factors that lead you to believe that police officers would be shot or killed during their attempt to breach the door of the facility then a judge may sign a warrant which specifically allows the officers to gain the element of surprise. This however can go terribly wrong and result in the killing of innocent people inside a home when a no-knock warrant is granted. No-Knock warrants are heavily disfavored and have become increasingly difficult for Police to obtain in recent years.


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